Flower children. Deadheads. Yuppies. Grandparents? Like students bewildered by the SAT question that asks which word doesn’t belong in the list, we keep wondering how grandparent crept onto our résumé.
As much as we loved our own grandpas and grandmas when we were kids, we couldn’t help noticing they were sorely out of date. Their clothes seemed old-fashioned, their expressions passé.
We found it hard to relate when they talked about dance marathons, Model Ts and flagpole sitting. Surely the good old days they so fondly recalled had happened an eon or two before we arrived on the scene.
When we think about how we saw our grandparents back then and how we see ourselves as grandparents now, the contrasts are nothing short of mind-boggling.
|Grandpa drove an Oldsmobile.||Grandpa rides a Harley.|
|Grandma wore housedresses and orthopedic shoes.||Grandma wears capris and sassy sandals to show off her pedicure.|
|Grampy had an old cane.||Grampy has a new knee.|
|Gran and Gramps took a cruise, and the grandkids got to hear all about it.||Gran and her partner take a cruise, and the grandkids get to go with them.|
|Grammy knit everybody sweaters.||Grammy buys everybody gift cards.|
|Grandpa swore at the TV and adjusted the rabbit ears.||Grandpa swears at the TV, the cable box, the remote and Grandma.|
|Nana baked everything from scratch and never heard of “me time.”||Nana frequents the cakes and cookies aisle at Costco and takes herself to the spa.|
|Granddad stored his teeth in the medicine cabinet at night.||Granddad stores his Viagra in the medicine cabinet day and night.|
|Grandma went to bridge club.||Grandma goes to book club and pilates.|
|The grandkids loved spending time with Gran and Gramps.||The grandkids love spending time with Gran, her second husband, Gramps and his new girlfriend.|
Thanks to our lasting hipness and A-to-Z involvement in nearly everything our grandkids do, we know they could never see us as we saw the parents of our parents. Or so we tell ourselves as we harmonize with The Drifters or Four Seasons on oldies radio en route to an early-bird dinner with friends.
Besides, our grandkids are too smart to let a bit of generational distance come between them and the best all-around playmates/babysitters/taxi service/confidantes/piggy bank/cheering section they’ll ever have.
Watching our grandchildren grow reminds us that it’s one quick trip to the other end of the timeline. Tell your grandson you’ve been friends with Jim or JoAnn for forty-five or fifty years, and the child will stare at you open-mouthed. He can’t begin to comprehend this fact, and it comes as quite a shock to you, too.
Of, if you’re surfing TV channels with your granddaughters and happen to mention that there were only three stations when you were a child—all of which signed off every night—they’ll say you must be joking.
There’s just no getting around it: times have changed, the world has changed and our generation has turned into grandparents. But just as we’ve done with every other new life stage, we’re adapting beautifully. That’s because every age is a groove…when it’s ours.
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting